Hawaii has the nickname, “the Aloha State.” This refers to its reputation for affection and hospitality among its people. Granting that, few can deny that Hawaii is also known for incredible natural beauty, a temperate climate and some of the best waves the world over. The most recent American possession to become a state, Hawaii consists of several distinctly stunning islands, one of which is Kauai — “the Garden Isle.” Fortunately for philatelists, the Postal Service recognizes Kauai’s unmistakable appeal.
Forever Stamps and Geography
People collect stamps for myriad reasons: simple enjoyment, financial investment or as a legacy to pass on to children and grandchildren. Yet many philatelists employ stamps as an educational project. Stamps teach lessons on art, science, culture, history and architecture. They are likewise instructive with regard to geography. This is why the United States Postal Service (USPS) issues “Forever” stamps depicting famous locations and natural wonders.
In its “O Beautiful” series of stamps, USPS features some of the most striking landscapes in the United States. Included in the panoply of scenic vistas are Bailey Island off the coast of Maine; the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee; an abundant field of wheat in Montana; Navajo grasslands in Arizona; and a lush valley in southern California. Such terrains typify the ode to this country as celebrated by the patriotic song, “America the Beautiful.”
“Forever” stamps are so dubbed because they retain the value of a first class stamp for one ounce of weight regardless of price fluctuations. As a government corporation, the USPS is funded not by taxpayer revenues, but through the purchase of postage and services offered by the post office. Thus, changes in prices occur as with any business. These stamps, however, are immune to such variability. Of course, collectors rarely use them for mailing.
New Hawaii Stamps
The western-most “O Beautiful” stamp conveys the inspiring and breathtaking image of Kauai’s Na Pali Coast. As the sun sets, mighty waves crash against the formidable cliffs that comprise the coastline. In fact, “na pali” actually means “high cliffs”and these crags rise up to 4,000 feet high. Standing atop them reveals spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and–if that were not enough–the depths of the Kalaulau Valley. In marvelous fashion, the new Hawaii stamps capture the natural majesty of this coveted location.
Tim de la Vega is a Hawaiian photographer who shot the photograph upon which the image is based. His work captures well the faces, artifacts, natural wonders and cultural footprints of the Aloha State. In addition to working as a photographer, Mr. de la Vega is a surfer and author, and has written extensively about the history of surfing around the islands. It is no surprise that Kauai is a mecca for serious longboarders.
The official issuing ceremony for the Hawaii stamps will commence 10:45 a.m. on August 16th at the Hanalei Post Office. The event is free to attend, and coincides with the post office’s re-opening after an extensive restoration due to flood damage. Although the USPS had previously created a stamp featuring Kauai, the Na Pali Coast stamp is the first such occasion taking place on the island itself.
These Hawaii stamps appear within a long tradition of honoring the state’s physical geography — landforms, flora, fauna and bodies of water. The United States Postal Service takes pride in the organic beauty thriving from sea to shining sea (and in this case, beyond!). Stamp collectors can do the same while building depth and breadth in their acquisitions. Visit your post office or USPS.com to get started.